Okay, first of all, I have no problem with people trying to sell their house without a realtor.  Realtors are incredibly expensive and can be painful to use if you don’t have a lot of equity in your home.  We just sold our home a month ago and chose to use a realtor despite the fact that she charged 6% of the sale price of our home ($9,600).  We decided to go that route because:

  • we wanted to sell our house within a short timeframe
  • we don’t currently have the time to properly market our home
  • houses in our area tend to take forever to sell
  • we have a personal relationship with a realtor that we know and trust

If we weren’t in a hurry to sell and move, we might’ve considered sticking a sign in our yard to see what happened.  Maybe.

However, there is one thing I will not do.  I will never buy a home that is for sale by owner again.  Why? Let me explain….

Our Current Home

When we stumbled upon our current home, it was for sale by owner.  When I called the number on the sign, I learned that the woman selling the home had inherited it from her mother.  Just for fun, let’s call the seller Fran.

Fran was difficult throughout the entire process.  First of all, she got very offended when we told her that we wanted to have a home inspection done.  We finally got her consent, but that was only because I told her repeatedly that I could not buy the home without having it inspected for major problems.  She took it very personally.  In addition to not wanting us to do a home inspection, Fran argued with us about everything from property taxes to possession and was basically an enormous pain-in-the-ass.  An adorable, soft-spoken, polite pain-in-the-ass.  When we initially told Fran that we couldn’t pay asking price because the house needed some updates, she would yell at us.  “That house don’t need no updating!”  And, keep in mind, most of the downstairs had blue indoor/outdoor carpeting that was literally glued to the floor with no padding.  Ummm……yeah.  We ultimately won that battle but it was probably not even close to worth it in retrospect.

Fran’s Family Might be Crazy

One day, I ended up in line behind Fran’s brother at Walmart.  After a few awkward moments of silence, he whispered something to me….

“There’s at least $10,000 hidden in your house.”

“Whaaa?”  I had no idea what he was talking about.

“If you let me search for it, I’ll split it with you,” he said.

There was no way in hell I was going to let him search my house for money so I drove straight home to tell Greg.  That night, we tore our house apart looking for places where money could be hidden.  And, even after finding a hidden attic entrance that we didn’t know about, we came up empty-handed.

However, I didn’t want people to think that there was money in my house.  People have been robbed for much less than $10,000 after all, and I have kids.  So, I called Fran’s brother and told him that he could come over and search.  When he showed up, he headed straight to the hidden attic entrance to look for the cash.  And…..nothing. 

After all of those shenanigans, I decided that I never wanted to know who we were buying from again.  I didn’t want to deal with direct negotiation or any potential craziness.  I just wanted to buy a house through a realtor and let them deal with any issues.

More FSBO Madness

Since we’re moving, we’re currently back in the real estate game.  At this point in our house search, it seems like we’ve looked at every house in our price range.  So, the other day, I checked out ForSaleByOwner.com to see if there were any houses that met our criteria.

And, there it was.  The perfect house in the perfect neighborhood.  It was exactly what we were looking for at exactly the price we were willing to pay.  So, I called the owner listed on the website in order to set up a showing.  Let’s call this person Ted.

Me: “Hi.  My name is Holly Johnson.  We’re interested in looking at the house you’ve got listed on FSBO.com.  Can you tell me more about it?”

Ted proceeds to tell me about the house.  It has three bedrooms and two baths.  The formal dining room has been turned into an office space with custom shelving and a built-in desk.  The house has a new roof and a new furnace.  Blah blah blah…..

Then, he said something slightly disconcerting.

“We had someone back out of buying our home at the last minute once.  Since then, we’ve been a little hesitant to let people see it.”


Ted and I talked for a few more minutes.  Then, at a certain point, I asked when we could come and check it out.

“Well……ummm……..I’m not really sure about that.”

“That’s fine,” I said.  “This weekend will probably work if you can’t do it before then.”

“Well, I’ll ask my wife but I can’t make any promises,” said Ted.  “I’m not sure what kind of timeline we’re on.”


Ted took my number and said he would call me and let me know when we could see the house.  But, he never did.


I thought the whole thing was really weird.  That was, of course, until I did some research and realized that Ted’s house had been listed for sale FOR TWO YEARS! 

TWO YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can tell you what timeline you’re on, Ted.  You’re in this game for the long haul.  Your house is never going to sell if you’re unwilling to let people see it.  Period.

Have you ever bought a house directly from the seller?  Or, have you ever sold your house on your own?   Please share your experience by commenting below.